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The World's Smartest Cities

August 15, 2015

If you need inspiration for using technology differently, spin the globe. These four cities are identified as some of the smartest based on six key segments— a smart economy, government, people, living, mobility, and environment. The takeaway? Cities that raise the bar with forward-thinking designs, environments, and infrastructures are positioned for positive growth.

1. Barcelona. As Europe’s innovation capital, this city in Spain is host to the largest Smart Cities event. Barcelona’s leaders strive to maintain balance between innovation and preserving the culture and quality of life. Its Smart Cities program boasts 22 initiatives, including increasing access to public WiFi, moving toward energy self-sufficiency, and supporting the city’s growing elderly population by closing the gaps that connect them to the care they need.

2. Copenhagen. Renewable energy, bicycling infrastructure, and green building only scratch the surface of this city’s smart initiatives. Copenhagen has long been a leader in creating people-focused spaces, from the transportation drive to reduce vehicle traffic to expanding green spaces and alternative energy sources. This city ranked highly in the “smart people” category that shows dedication to social inclusion, education, and creativity.

3. Helsinki. This city has been on the leading edge of cities that use transparent and open data sources. They have more than 1,200 open data sets—open access to free, unpatented, and uncopyrighted information— and more than 100 applications that use the data for analysis. Digital technology thrives here—all residential and commercial buildings have smart meters, and more than two-thirds of commercial buildings rely on automation systems for smarter energy usage.

4. Singapore. Built-in incentives to reduce personal vehicle use and boost public transportation are only one piece of the puzzle in this city-state. Smart initiatives are in place at nearly every level, including a commitment to making almost all government services accessible online, greening infrastructure, and developing a high number of certified green buildings nationally.

Tech that makes travel a breeze

Ready to jet set? Here are two tools to check out before you leave:

> TSA PreCheck®. Join the 1 million passengers who can move through airport security without flinching. This trusted traveler program allows individuals to go through security at 133 U.S. airports without removing shoes, outerwear, or a belt. Interested candidates must complete an application and receive a Known Traveler Number, good for five years, that enables them to bypass long lines for security screenings. Keep your laptop in its case and proceed to your gate, please. Visit tsa.gov to register.

> Google Translate. Stop stumbling over your order in Italian while traveling. The Google app translates in real-time like a handheld interpreter. Thanks to Word Lens technology, snap a photo of a sign in a different language and get a translation for it in 36 languages. The app will provide a real-time, instant translation—even without an Internet or data connection—in up to seven languages, simply using your camera.